This was post-game in the cramped visitors media room at FedEx Field. Jackson had just talked for six-plus minutes about the Eagles’ season-opening victory over the Redskins. As he prepared to step away from the podium, a media relations staffer stopped him and told him there was just one more question.
But this one was from a familiar face.
“How would you rate your performance?” asked Michael Vick, who had snuck into the crowd before it was his turn to address the media. “I saw you running down the field a couple times with your hands up.”
Answered Jackson with a huge grin: “I got mad a couple times, you know, Michael Vick didn’t throw me the ball.”
The pair shared a laugh and a handshake before going their separate ways. Another sign that for one week at least, life is good in Eagle-Land.
The offense moved the ball up and down the field during the team’s 33-27 win over the Redskins. While the running game behind LeSean McCoy was huge, Vick and Jackson provided the Eagles with a spark early.
At one point in the first half, Vick was 6-for-6 for 90 yards on throws to Jackson. He was 4-for-11 for 53 yards to everybody else. Overall, Jackson finished with seven catches for 104 yards and a touchdown on nine targets. Vick was 15-for-25 for 203 yards and a pair of scores. He also ran it nine times for 56 yards.
“Last year was last year,” Jackson said. “This year, 2013, is a whole new year. So we want everybody to know we’re a serious team. Everybody’s been kind of counting us out, thinking that we’re underdogs and things like that. I feel great, confident in the guys in my locker room.
“I think this is a team that could make it to the playoffs and hopefully take it all the way.”
The speedy wide receiver is clearly excited about the prospects of this offense under Chip Kelly. He played 11 games last year before going down with an injury. Now, Jackson is being featured in a variety of ways. And while it’s only one game, so far, so good.
“I was able to get the ball in my hands,” Jackson said. “A lot of times in the past couple years, teams were so afraid of me beating them down the field, but as you see, a lot of my catches was underneath, short routes, caught a ball across the middle, tried to break one for long. So doing whatever I need to do to help my team win games and create big plays and kind of spark ‘em up with energy is something I look forward to.
“Being in the slot, motioning, doing things like that. In the past, I had so much success with getting big plays, 50-plus plays in my career. Coming in this year, this offense is getting the ball out so quick, so fast. There are times we do have down-the-field throws as you saw when I caught the touchdown on the post. … I’m all in. I’ll do what it takes to get it done.”
When the Eagles first hired Kelly, the consensus was that the running backs would be featured heavily. And while that’s true, there’s a domino effect too. If teams are forced to cheat their safeties up – and given how well McCoy looked, that’s going to happen – there will be less help for Jackson over the top.
Given the nature of the game, the numbers are skewed. But the Eagles ran it 49 times, compared to 25 passes. They ran 53 plays in the first half and 77 overall.
“When the first quarter was over, I thought we were about to go into halftime,” Vick said. “It was unreal. The only thing I kept telling myself was it’s gonna be a long season.”
Added Jackson: “I think everybody was very excited to see how good we did moving the ball up and down the field. There wasn’t one time where we felt we were gonna be stopped, besides a couple penalties here and there and a couple turnovers. But aside from that, I don’t think we was able to be stopped.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
I posted instant observations following the game.
Players survey: We asked players which of their teammates is primed for a big year.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Reuben Frank of CSNPhilly.com offers his post-game observations:
The secondary still scares me. Cary Williams had a big game in his Eagles debut, and Brandon Boykin got the first-half interception, but once Robert Griffin III got into a rhythm and shook off the rust, he was able to pick apart the Eagles’ pass defense. He threw for 276 yards after halftime.
Tommy Lawlor of IgglesBlitz.com has post-game reaction:
The Eagles offense was simply amazing at times. Shady had a monster game, rushing 31 times for 184 yards and a TD. He made some sensational moves at the LOS and in space. I also loved the fact he ran hard when he needed to. He converted a couple of short yardage plays by attacking up the field and not looking for big plays on the edge.
We’ll hear from Kelly and the players on Tuesday. Also, stay tuned for our game reviews.
** Note: Because of the late game, this version of the wake-up call was posted early.